Yesterday, the NCAA released Graduation Success Rates for Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Of those 120 institutions, Notre Dame achieved the best marks, with 18 of 22 Irish athletic teams achieving 100 GSR scores. Notre Dame was one of only eight institutions to have at least 50 percent of teams achieve perfection. The Notre Dame football team achieved a 97 GSR, the highest among FBS schools. Northwestern, Boston College, Duke, Rice and the U.S. Naval Academy were the only other institutions with at least 90 or higher. In addition, both the men's and women's basketball teams were among the programs with perfect GSR scores. The hockey team achieved a 95 GSR rating, second only to Air Force. This release from the NCAA probably comes as no surprise to most people at Notre Dame. Still, it is news that should make anyone associated with the university and athletic department proud. The university and its rabid fan base, alumni and student body expect to contend for and win championships, and Notre Dame has, in several sports. However, football is king for many people, and a lot of fans won't be satisfied until the Irish are hoisting that crystal ball in January. However, in the age of NCAA sanctions, player suspensions, reduced scholarships and bowl ineligibility, Notre Dame continues to do it the right way. Notre Dame graduates its players. Notre Dame is committed to both academic and athletic excellence. And Notre Dame is not going to sacrifice its core values in the pursuit of titles, trophies and other accolades. At Notre Dame, athletes are not just quarterbacks, forwards, shortstops, jumpers, swimmers and goalies, but future doctors, lawyers and business people, getting the job done in the classroom. They are student-athletes. Most of them will "go pro in something other than sports." It has been quite some time since Notre Dame has even been in the discussion for a football national championship, but the Irish are slowly progressing towards those goals, and will make it back to the BCS conversation. In the meantime, take pride in the fact that Notre Dame represents the good in college sports. - Josh Flynt ('11)
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This was the night hockey head coach Jeff Jackson must have envisioned when he promised a new hockey arena to recruits of the Notre Dame hockey program. A raucous, sell-out crowd of 5,022 whose noise level was elevated by close confines of the new Compton Family Ice Arena. A dominating 5-2 win for an Irish program fresh off a Frozen Four appearance and ranked in the top 10 of two national polls. A hat trick from sophomore Anders Lee and a goal from senior captain Sean Lorenz. The opening of the new arena could not have been scripted any better. While the Irish earned a decisive win over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the night was about more than the game. It was a culmination of the rebirth of the Notre Dame hockey program under coach Jeff Jackson. Before Jackson took control of the program in 2005, the Irish had one NCAA Tournament appearance in their history and played in a Joyce Center facility that felt like a temporary home. Also, the Irish seemed to have hit rock bottom in 2004-05 with a dismal five-win season. Friday night showed how far the program has come since then with two Frozen Four appearances in six seasons. This turnaround eventually paid off in the construction of a state-of-the-art home. The cozy, 5,000-seat, double-deck arena left those in attendance in awe and motivated the Irish players. "We really tried to stay focused on the game," Jackson said. "But (the atmosphere) made such a difference." As for the game, its outcome was decided in a dominant second period performance by the Irish in which they built a 3-1 lead. Entering the period with the game tied at 1-1, the Irish outshot the Engineers 14-2, executed crisp passes and played with a physical edge. "We were much better with the puck in the second period," Jackson said. "When our guys got on a roll, there's no question the crowd motivated them." Lee quickly gave the Irish the lead with a goal 1:09 into second period. He found an opening by the faceoff circle and fired a shot into the back of the net for his second tally on the night. At the 14:37 mark, Lorenz scored his second goal of the season. He momentarily lost control of the pass before regaining the puck and rifling a shot into the upper corner of the goal. Meanwhile, Notre Dame's physical edge resulted in two penalties but the Irish managed to kill both RPI power plays. Perhaps all the Irish needed was a home game to exorcise two disturbing early-season trends of slow starts and poor power play execution. While the Irish did not dominate the first period, they played the Engineers to a 1-1 tie. In their previous three games, the Irish were outscored 5-1 in the first period by their opponents. At the 9:21 mark in the first period, Lee christened the Compton Family Ice Arena with its first goal on a shot from the side of the goal that found the back of the net. Lee completed his hat trick with an empty net score 18:40 into the third period. He could have completed the hat trick earlier on a power play in the third period. However, his shot of the mid-air puck into the net was ruled a high sticking penalty. Entering the night, the Irish had converted only four of 24 power plays into goals. On Friday, the Irish converted at a 33.3 percent success rate with one goal in three power play chances. - Matt Unger ('14)
I was excited to check out last Friday's pep rally. As a lifelong Notre Dame fan it was great to see Mike Golic, Tim Brown and Mike Brey up close and in person. But I knew I had to leave early to secure tickets to the unveiling of a new, state-of-the-art facility. I had to check out the Notre Dame hockey team as it took on Rensselaer at the Compton Family Ice Arena. From the moment I walked into the complex I realized that the long months of construction across from the Joyce Center had been for a great cause. The arena is completely modern in every way and the atmosphere inside Compton was electric. Students, alumni, the band and the Fighting Irish players were all ready to try out the new digs. Everywhere I looked I saw something sparkling and incredible. The Irish pub on the second floor seems too good to believe, and the poster-making stations found throughout the arena were a great idea. I've got to say, the videoboard stole the show. The combination of lights, sounds and high quality videos that the new system allowed was amazing. All of the new features had the Irish fans in the arena fired up for a big game. Luckily enough, the Irish players delivered. Maybe it was the energy of the crowd in the new arena. Maybe it was anger at falling a few spots in the rankings after suffering two early losses. Maybe the players were caught up in the emotion of it being "USC weekend" on campus. Whatever the reason, Notre Dame came out with the kind of determination and fire that is almost impossible to beat. Anders Lee was a man on a mission. Lee put on a show, scoring not only the first goal in the Compton Family Ice Arena but also notching its first hat trick. The Irish were aggressive throughout the night and played with the same level of intensity that led them to a Frozen Four appearance last year. The result was a dominant performance in a commanding 5-2 victory over the Engineers. It was the perfect way to open the new Compton Family Ice Arena. And as a series of familiar chants rocked the arena at the end of the third period, I realized it was also the perfect way to kickoff the weekend. We got to see what can happen when an inspired team performance combines with a passionate fan base. They're both powerful forces, but when they're together they're just abut unstoppable. - Tom McGuire ('14)
Last Friday, a new era of Notre Dame hockey began as the team relocated from the Joyce Center's north dome to Compton Family Ice Arena. The new facility is an incredible upgrade from the old and gives the top-tier team a home with quality that reflects the recent success of the program. Playing Rensselaer Tech (RPI), the Irish put on a show for the largest hockey crowd in South Bend history - a sell-out showing of 5,022. Sophomore Anders Lee continued his scoring tear, bringing his season goal total to eight with a hat trick in the inaugural game. Lee is tied for the most goals in the nation with Jeremy Langlois from Quinnipiac, despite playing in three fewer games. What was most encouraging about the game, however, was the electrifying atmosphere that the new arena brought. A few kinks in the system notwithstanding, the experience was overwhelmingly superior to that of the Joyce Center. The videoboard was able to better introduce the players and provide a real-time feed for when the puck went into a blind spot of the ice. But the real benefit of the arena was much more intangible than that. It's difficult to describe, but the difference in atmosphere is like the disparity in speed between the NFL and college football. We're at a whole new level now. Hopefully the Irish will be able to feed off the inevitable increase in energy that will come at home. I'll be anxious to see how loud the place can get in a game that's still close during the third period. As exciting as Friday's game was, I have a feeling it can get a lot louder in that arena. - Craig Chval ('15)
Notre Dame returns to action tonight as the Irish play host to the Rensselaer Engineers on at 7:35 p.m. (ET). The game will be the first-ever played at the new Compton Family Ice Arena. Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation. Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem. Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.
AL.com - A group of University of Notre Dame student-athletes and administrators wrapped up a week of volunteering in tornado relief Thursday on a fall break service trip organized by Notre Dame and the University of Alabama. The trip, called Fight for Tide, brought 24 students and six administrators to Tuscaloosa to work in collaboration with Project Team Up, an initiative to rebuild communities partnered with Nick Saban's foundation Nick's Kids. Students representing the Notre Dame baseball, cross country, cheerleading, fencing, men's golf, women's lacrosse, rowing and track and field teams were selected for the trip based on essays they wrote. Sarah Smith, program coordinator for student athlete welfare and development at Notre Dame, said the idea to help Tuscaloosa began with a former Notre Dame employee who currently works in the ticket office at Alabama. He emailed the athletics office at Notre Dame and asked them to collect relief supplies that Alabama would pay to ship. Smith, who is originally from a town an hour away from Joplin, Missouri, began to come up with an idea of a service trip when students started talking over the summer about going to down to Tuscaloosa to help. "I just kind of ran with the idea and started calling people to see if it would be a possibility, and people started wanting to support it and make it happen," Smith said. After arriving Saturday, the group has worked at two sites in Alberta City, clearing storm debris on lots where new houses are planned to be built. They also met with Alabama athletics director Mal Moore and went on the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium, had dinner with Notre Dame's Alabama alumni club at Dreamland, attended Mass with students at the St. Francis of Assisi Parish on the Alabama campus and toured the baseball and softball facilities. On Thursday, at a site just off University Boulevard on 21st Avenue East, Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy and several players joined the group from Notre Dame in clearing debris from destroyed houses and carrying limbs to the street. Notre Dame baseball player Tommy Chase said the experience changed his perspective on the important things in life. "I look at this as a great opportunity to help where there's a need," Chase said. "We get caught up at school doing a lot things for ourselves, whether it's in sports or in the classroom. Those are all great things, but it's revolved around our own needs and goals. Being able to come down here and help others is really important for my own personal development, but also I want to hopefully inspire this community in some way." Notre Dame sophomore cheerleader Erin Garfield took time away from her team to travel to Tuscaloosa because the fall break gave her time to join the service trip. On Saturday night, she'll be cheering on the sidelines as the Irish face USC in South Bend. "It's just been a great experience all around, hearing all these stories from people who experienced the tornado and getting to meet all these amazing people, Garfield said. Alabama sophomore softball player Ryan Iamurri said she was glad to share the experience of volunteering in Alberta City with the students from Notre Dame. "When you live here, you kind of get back in your normal routine, and if you don't cross this bridge (to Alberta), you forget what it's like," Iamurri said."It was so nice of them because we realize there's still so much more to do. To come out here with them is special."
- Despite an overwhelming edge in shots and quality scoring chances in the second half and both overtime periods in its BIG EAST Conference women's soccer match at Rutgers, Notre Dame wasn't able to find the winning solution and wound up sharing the spoils with the Scarlet Knights, as Sunday's matinee ended in a 0-0 draw at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. ... it was the fourth consecutive shutout for the Fighting Irish and keeps Notre Dame unbeaten in its last four matches, as well as six of their last seven outings ... the Fighting Irish finished with a 21-9 advantage in total shots for the afternoon, including a 17-3 edge during the final 45 minutes and the two 10-minute overtime sessions. - A second straight BIG EAST Conference volleyball road win came in the form of a 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-12) victory for Notre Dame Sunday afternoon at the West Virginia Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va. ... paving the way for the Irish over host West Virginia was senior Kristen Dealy and her 16 kills ... in fact, Dealy hit an eye-popping .533 on the day without an error in 30 attempts. - Sean Lorenz, Anders Lee and T.J. Tynan each had a goal and an assist and Notre Dame got strong play from its special teams as the Irish rallied to overcome a 2-0 second-period deficit on the way to a 5-3 hockey win over the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs Saturday night in front of 6,303 fans at AMSOIL Arena ... Nick Larson and Kevin Lind added the other two Irish goals while Sam Calabrese chipped in a pair of key assists for a two-point night on the score sheet ... Steven Summerhays made 21 saves in helping Notre Dame to a split of the weekend series. - The 11th-ranked men's soccer team played No. 1 Connecticut to a scoreless draw in BIG EAST Blue Division action on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,943 fans at Alumni Stadium on the Notre Dame campus ... the tie snapped Connecticut's 11-game win streak. - Here are some of Brian Kelly's comments from Sunday's media teleconference: "We've said, listen, if we want to make the playoffs we have to win each and every week. We said, let's get to the top 14 in the country, you're in the playoffs and that means you've got to win a lot of games. It's a must-win situation each week and every game is a playoff game for us." "Any time you are preparing against the option, yards have nothing to do with the outcome. It's about keeping the points down." "When you have to prepare for triple option and the ability of the quarterback to run, you put in one less coverage for Michael Floyd and you put in one less blitz package to get after Tommy Rees because you're afraid you may get caught in that when (Andrew) Hendrix is in the game So it protects him (Rees) more when you have that kind of versatility in your offense." "When you can protect the quarterback at the level that we do and to run the ball the past two weeks for over 250 yards, that's about as complete as it gets for an offensive line." - Here are some leftover football notes from the Notre Dame-Air Force contest: * The last time Notre Dame had seven different players score TDs in a game was in the 48-17 win over Arizona State in 1999 at Notre Dame Stadium. * The last Notre Dame QB to run for 100 yards was Carlyle Holiday who had 22-109 vs. Boston College in 2001; Andrew Hendrix had six for 111. * The 555 total yards by Notre Dame is the most this season (551 last week at Purdue). * Notre Dame's 59 points are most by an Irish team since 62-0 vs. Rutgers in 1996 in Lou Holtz's last game at ND Stadium * It was first time Irish have scored 50 anywhere since a 57-7 win at Stanford in 2003. * It was first time Irish have been over 50 points at Notre Dame Stadium since a 52-20 win over Boston College in 1997. * The last time a Notre Dame team scored more points in any half than first-half 42 vs. Air Force was 48 in second half vs. Georgia Tech in 1977. * Last time an Irish QB threw four TD passes in first half of a game was Brady Quinn who did it in 2004 in first half vs. Washington at Notre Dame Stadium. * Tommy Rees now has at least one TD pass in 11 straight games - third on all-time list behind Brady Quinn (16) and Jimmy Clausen (13)
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